Penalty in USA
Main story November 8, 1997, in Jyllands-Posten, the biggest serious Danish newspaper
Danish Critics of USA in the UN
Denmark plans to raise critics in the Human Rights Commission of UN against the increasing number of executions of death sentenced prisoners in USA.
During his visit in Washington the Danish Minister of State, Niels Helweg Petersen, said that the UN Human Rights Commission is the right place to express ones critics.
"I think than we should point out in the Commission how we feel about the death penalty", he said.
"It is my hope that the discussion on the death penalty will lead to a reduced use of the death penalty in the USA", he added.
With more than 60 executions per year USA is close to a national record. You have to go back 40 years - till 1975 - to find an equivalent number of executions.
CHINA CRITICISED LAST YEAR
Last year Denmark came into focus at a meeting in the Human Rights Commission by proposing a critical resolution against the Chinese violation of human rights.
The initiative was supported by USA, that in this connection stressed Denmark's "outstanding struggle for human rights".
It is the first time that Denmark criticizes USA in the Commission for its use of the death penalty. But the form which Helweg has chosen - a so called contribution - is a mild type of diplomatic critics as it only means that you in a speech express the Danish points of view - contrary to a resolution where you express your wish that other member nations back you up.
The initiative of the Minister of State is received with some scepticism among the right wing parties in Denmark. They are concerned whether critics of USA may look as if the violations of human rights in USA are being compared to the violations in China.
The death penalty was not among the issues that Niels Helweg Petersen raised in his talks with his American colleague Madeleine Albright during his visit in Washington.
"The International Human Rights do no include a prohibition against the death penalty. That means that you cannot argue - like on other issues - that USA has committed itself not to use the death penalty. Therefor there is no basis to raise the issue for the American Minister of State", Niels Helweg Petersen stated.
"But my attitude against the death penalty is clear: I am absolutely against the use of it", he stressed.